Native Hawaiian Activist And Heiress Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawananakoa Die At Age 96!
Heiress to Campbell Estate The affluent descendant of Hawaiian royalty whose private life came under scrutiny amid a contentious legal battle over her $215 million trust fund, Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawananakoa, passed away on Sunday at the age of 96.
At the entrance to Iolani Palace this morning, Hailama Farden of Hale O Na Alii O Hawaii and Paula Akana, the executive director, announced Kawananakoa’s passing in Olelo, Hawaii.
Her Royal Highness, Princess Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawananakoa passed away at 6:45 p.m. last night, the Hale O Na Alii O Hawaii, the Iolani Palace, and the Kawananakoa family announced with profound regret, Farden added. “We share this time of sadness.”
According to a representative for Iolani Palace, she passed away naturally.
The James Campbell Company sent the following email this afternoon: “The Staff, Management, and Board of Directors will sadly miss Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawananakoa. She was a loyal and devoted shareholder of the James Campbell Company. She supported the Hawaiian people during her long and prosperous life. We extend our sincere sympathies to her family.
To celebrate Kawananakoa, Governor Josh Green mandated that the American and Hawaiian flags be flown at half-staff in all state buildings and offices through Sunday evening.
Princess Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawananakoa passed away, and Jaime and I are devastated by her passing, Green said in a press release. “Like so many alii who came before her, Abigail bore the weight of her position with dignity and humility, brightened the lives of everyone she came in contact with and left a legacy dedicated to her people forever. Hawaii is in deep sorrow over this terrible loss. We send our aloha and sincere condolences to her whole ohana and everyone who had the honor of knowing Princess Abigail Kawananakoa.
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Following Kawananakoa’s passing, Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi issued a statement this afternoon.
Princess Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawnanakoa passed away this morning, and I was heartbroken to learn of her loss, stated Blangiardi in a press release. “She was the pinnacle of Hawaiian nobility and devoted her entire life to advancing Native Hawaiian culture and its interests. She handled it with elegance, dignity, humility, and wisdom. We want to send the Kawananakoa ohana our deepest condolences and aloha during this challenging time on behalf of the City and County of Honolulu.
The great-grandniece of Queen Kapiolani, Kawananakoa, was a well-known and occasionally contentious figure in the islands. She was renowned for her financial support of Native Hawaiian culture and causes and for her activism, which included going to court in her later years to defend her convictions.
Due to her royal ancestry, Kawananakoa was sometimes considered a princess. In 2001, she established the Abigail KK Kawananakoa Foundation as a nonprofit organization to manage roughly $100 million for Native Hawaiian issues passing.
Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawananakoa spent tens of millions on her pastime of quarter horse breeding and racing simultaneously. She was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Hall of Fame in 2018 due to her success on the racetrack, making her the most outstanding female breeder in the industry.
After having a stroke in June 2017, Kawananakoa’s later years were upended. The woman’s soon-to-be spouse and longtime lawyer fought in court for the following few years about who would control her riches and what may happen to her foundation charity.
A judge would appoint a conservator to manage the handling of Kawananakoa’s funds after a doctor found her incapable of managing her financial affairs.
However, given that several matters about the estate are still in litigation, it is still unclear how the charity will fare.
Her parents were Lydia Kamakaeha Liliuokalani Kawananakoa and William Jeremiah Ellerbrock, and she was born Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Ellerbrock in 1926. Abigail Wahiikaahuula Campbell Kawananakoa, who was married to Prince David Laamea Kahalepouli Piikoi Kawananakoa, legally adopted the girl after their two-year marriage ended in divorce.
Before earning her diploma from Notre Dame School in Belmont, California, in 1943, the girl studied in China at Punahou School and Shanghai American School. Before enrolling at the University of Hawaii, she looked at Dominican College in San Rafael, California, for two years.
As the great-granddaughter of James Campbell, an Irish businessman from the 19th century who amassed wealth as the owner of a sugar plantation and one of Hawaii’s most significant landowners, Kawananakoa, better known to her friends as Kekau, inherited her wealth.
She spent several decades bouncing between her principal residence in California and Hawaii after graduating from college, living in Europe, traveling, and living abroad.
She supported a variety of Native Hawaiian organizations while she was on the islands. Kawananakoa contributed to the renovation of the King David Kalakaua-built palace as the group her mother founded’s longtime president, the Friends of ‘Iolani Palace.
Kawananakoa, frequently characterized as independent and opinionated, occasionally disregarded the IRS and was no stranger to conflict.
She applied for bankruptcy protection in February 1997. Over $5 million in IRS taxes, fines, and interest were among the debts stated in the Chapter 11 filing.
She made headlines in 1998 when she sat on a 115-year-old, flimsy castle throne for a Life magazine photo shoot. Jim Bartels, the managing director and curator of Iolani Palace, resigned due to the incident.
When Kawananakoa asked to have a new tomb constructed in the Mauna Ala royal mausoleum in 2013, several objected, questioning whether her ancestry made her eligible for such an honor. The state Board of Land and Natural Resources eventually approved her permission to be interred there.
Kawananakoa, an avid horsewoman who has produced her first quarter horse for racing since 1980, became one of the sport’s top owners and breeders after achieving success in the next ten years.
Her horse,e Evening Snow, broke a 27-year record to become “the fastest horse in the world” in 1995, and her sir,e A Classic Dash won the theAll-Americann Futurity in 1993. Five world championships would be won by Kawananakoa, who also won back-to-back titles in 1994 and 1995.
The American Quarter Horse Association claims that Kawananakoa is the industry’s all-time top female breeder, with more than $10 million in earnings.
She is cited on her Hall of Fame web page as saying, “Horses have always been the next-most important thing in the world to me, after my friends and Hawaii.” How shall I begin? Catching the rainbow, I say. Most of her philanthropic contributions during her lifetime were made to Colorado State University, where she contributed $3 million to an endowment for horse orthopedicss and $20 million to the construction of a veterinary teaching hospital.
The majority, if not all, of her greatest racing triumphs were in the 1990s. Still, since 2000, she has continued to produce and race horses, earning more than $3 million in victories, according to the Equibase website that tracks horse racing records.
However, according to court documents, the woman was losing as much as $4 million annually on her horse breeding and ranching activities in Nuevo, California, in recent years.
Kawananakoa fueled her advocacy on the islands with wealth as she grew older.
She launched a lawsuit in 2005 requesting that 83 Hawaiian antiquities reburied in Kawaihae, often known as “Forbes Cave,” be returned to Bishop Museum. After the dispute was resolved outside of court, the things were produced.
Later, she came out as a critic of the Honolulu rail project and contributed to the former governor Ben Cayetano’s full-page Washington Post ad urging President Donald Trump to block federal funding. Additionally, she filed a lawsuit in vain to have Honolulu City Council members’ votes on the train project declared invalid because they had concealed conflicts of interest.
Kawananakoa was against the contentious Thirty Meter Telescope that was going to be built on the summit of Mauna Kea. She not only openly attacked UH for mismanaging the Mauna Kea Observatory precinct, but she also donated tens of thousands of dollars to TMT protesters and filed a lawsuit to obtain information about the appointment of Riki May Amano as the hearing officer for the theTMT-challengedd case.
In vain to have the former CEO Kamanaopono Crabbe’s three-year contract extension with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees declared unlawful, Kawananakoa filed an action against the board in 2015.
As a result of her 2017 stroke, her activism came to an end. The heiress had drawn up a successorship plan in case she became incapacitated. Still, the issue caused her longtime attorney, James Wright, to approach the court for custody of the woman’s fortune.
Nevertheless, Kawananakoa fired Wright while standing by her side was her 20-year partner Veronica Gail Worth. Later, she wed Worth, who adopted her last name.
The protracted legal dispute became a regular feature of the local news for at least a few years, exposing personal information about the heiress’s life and igniting charges of abuse, deceit, and unethical activity on both sides.
The court prevented the couple from changing the trust along the way so that the surviving spouse would receive $40 million in addition to all Kawananakoa’s possessions. The court also rejected a plan to sell 400 of the heiress’ items, including furniture, artwork, cutlery, and Polynesian relics.
Judge R. Mark Browning of the Probate Court concluded in 2018 that Kawananakoa lacked the mental capacity to amend or revoke her trust or to remove and replace its trustee.
Judge James Ashford of the Circuit Court determined Kawananakoa was not mentally capable of managing her financial affairs two years later. Robbie Alm, a former executive at Hawaiian Electric, has been designated conservator in managing the woman’s financial affairs.
Even after her passing, the case is still pending in court because, among other things, it is unclear who would succeed Wright as trustee.